ABC and 123: A Learning Collaborative: October 2014

Monday, October 6, 2014

Top 10 Universal Studios Inspired Halloween Costumes for Kids

 Despicable Me

Image Credit: Costume Works

There are so many adorable options for dressing your little ones up as minions if they are your  Despicable Me favorites.  This year I am loving the idea of three little ladies dressed up to look like Gru's adorable daughters.  This is an especially fun family dress up option.

The Simpsons

The Simpsons would be another interesting family costume idea.  Who can resist this adorable Baby Maggie!

Curious George
Image Credit: The Chirping Mom

Curious George and The Man with the Yellow Hat are dress up classics.  The Chriping Moms put together a simple, yet adorable version of this famous duo.  If you don't have two little ones to dress opt for the Man with the Yellow Hat and carry a favorite stuffed monkey.

Dora the Explorer
Image Credit: The MomBot

Dora and Boots are preschool favorites.
Image Credit: Crafty Bitch

While visiting Universal last summer we were able to introduce our four young children to Popeye and his best gal Olive Oil.  This little sailor is the most precious Popeye ever!

Dr. Seuss
Image Credit: Moms Best Nest

Each year at Halloween we greet several Thing 1 and Thing 2 pairs at our doorstep.  Dr. Seuss fans looking for something different might want to dress up like Sam I Am.

Image Credit: The Truthful Mom

At Universal Orlando Shrek and Fiona are the fairy tale favorites.  This little hat totally makes this costume

Image Credit: I Want Some Fun

Older children might not appreciate this Elliot costume for how awesome it is, but it certainly brings back childhood memories for mom and dad.  The ET Adventure at Universal Orlando is our kid's favorite ride, making this costume a top contender on my four year old's dress up list.

Image Credit: Costume Works

One of the most intimidating attractions at Universal Orlando is The Hulk, yet somehow every little boy is drawn to it - if only to stand beneath it and listen to the roar.  I suppose that's pretty true to form for Hulk - loud and intimidating, but irresistible!


Image Credit: Dollar Store Crafts

This construction is seriously amazing.  My six year old is scheming to figure out who he could get to create this for him.  He is also very curious how this friend got out of the costume when he was done.

What costumes are you lining up for this Halloween?  
Does your family try to all dress according to a theme? 
Do you focus on book characters?  Movie Characters?  Animals?  
We would love to hear from you!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Ideas for Throwing a Three Billy Goats Gruff Fairy Tale Birthday Party

Since grandma read the book when he was very little my youngest son has had an interesting fascination with The Three Billy Goats Gruff.  At first, he was terrified of the story.  Everyone did their best to alleviate his fears by showing him video clips of adorable little billy goats, singing goat rhymes, reading parodies of the famous tale, and driving miles off our typical course to find farms with "nice" real life goats.  All of our efforts proved successful when his fear turned into a giant toddler obsession. 
His extreme interest aside, I never quite imagined when offered Thomas the Train, Olaf, Bob the Builder, Doc McStuffins, or I Stink the garbage truck as themes for his 4th birthday celebration my son would "choose his own adventure"... The Three Billy Goats Gruff.  We knew right away the local party store wasn't going to be able to provide much for inspiration or decorations. With a little creativity, a bit of lesson plan adaptation, and some Pinterest inspiration our older children were able to help me put together a small party our littlest billy goat gruff found perfectly exciting.  
It couldn't hurt to share a few details here in case anyone finds themselves in a similar situation with an obscure preschool party request.  You never know, you might thank me someday (wink!).

To decorate the table we created napkin ring goats using paper towel rolls cut into quarters.  Other materials include: a quarter of a cotton ball, scraps of brown and black construction paper, glue stick, Sharpie marker, and brown raffia.  Since the kids did a lot of the assembly each goat had a look and expression of its own.
Construction paper goats in three different sizes became an inexpensive way to inspire story telling even with favor bags.

We always love to have a big pile of books available at parties for kids to check out during transition times. In addition to many versions of the classic fairy tale, there are many fun picture book spin offs on the Three Billy Goats theme.  Here are a few of our favorite titles. 
Three Silly Billies by Margie Palatini
Three Billy Goats Fluff by Rachael Mortimer
Three Billy Goats' Stuff! by Bob Hartman
Just a Friendly Old Troll (Another Point of View) by Alvin Granowski
Older children worked together using Legos and goat figurines to build the story's setting while waiting for all the guests to arrive.  Their finished sculpture ended up being a great decoration for the gift table.

During the party the kids enjoyed creating Pet Trolls like this colorful example we found on ScrumDillyDo.  Supply each child with a lump of clay, very little instruction, and piles of googly eyes, pipe cleaners, and pom poms.  Sit back and watch their imaginations run wild!

  Use your favorite trail mix and a bag of white chocolate chips to create this sweet, troll-ish treat.
  There are likely many recipes for melted chocolate bark, but here is a quick and easy run down:
  • Line a cookie sheet with foil
  • Melt chocolate in a double boiler
  • Spread on cookie sheet
  • Evenly distribute trail mix through chocolate
  • Let cool before breaking into bite size pieces

  •  A grassy mountain seemed to be a most appropriate scene from the story to display on the cake.  This mountain was built using 2 heart shaped cake pans, chocolate frosting, and a little bit of leftover white chocolate "snow."
    If building a mountain cake is too time consuming, stack various sized cupcakes to create mountains and valleys. Our family hosts two separate parties to accommodate two sides of the family.  We brainstormed this "mountains and valleys" scene as a quicker option for keeping the dessert thematic for a second celebration.  Arrange chocolate cupcakes of various sizes and  top them with sprigs of frosting grass and toothpicks to prop the goats in their sweet habitat.

    Do you use any Three Billy Goats Gruff activities in your class that could be adapted for use at a birthday party?